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Full text of "History And Human Relation"


start imagining that the French Revolution stood up
and did something as though it were a self-acting agent
(when we really mean that a certain man or group of
men came to some decision or other)—then we are
moving into that world of optical illusions in which
historians play such clever conjuring-tricks for the
purpose of mystifying themselves. Economic factors,
financial- situations, wars, political crises do not cause
anything, do not do anything, do not exist except as
abstract terms and convenient pieces of shorthand. In-
the last resort, if we want to see the bursting of the
Soutii Sea Bubble we do not apprehend it as a mishap
to a bubble or a strange eruption within the bosom of
an abstract noun; what we get is a picture of human
beings behaving in a certain waff under certain conditions.
It is necessary to stress this fact in a manner that may seem
childish, because in Marx himself, and indeed in every
so-called interpretation of history, this fundamental
importance of human beings—this initial appearance of
sovereignty in self-acting individuals—is, so to speak,
taken as granted. It is men who make history—-who
really do things. All interpretations of history must
be construed in the light of this fact*

For this reason all attempts to simplify explanations
and turn history into schematic patterns are limited in
their validity and are periodically liable to crack. Con-
stantly such systems must be thrown back into the
melting-pot; and for the purpose of recovering
authentic contact with the past, we must return to the
jungle of details and complexities—return to the elas-
ticity of ordinary narrative history. In the last resort,